Upton Sinclair is turning over in his grave. I listened to recent podcast by New York Time’s, The Daily called “The Human Toll of Instant Delivery”. It was timed perfectly during the Holiday season to pack the maximum “gut punch”. The show captures accounts and details of how workers within the logistics supply chain, in particular third party logistics providers, face poor working conditions, long hours, and labor practices that lack empathy and show disregard for decency and the human condition.
This is just as you, me, and millions of other Americans, put heavy pressure on the logistics supply chain and delivery systems as we gorge ourselves on retail discounts for the Holidays. White vans are everywhere delivering packages to front doors in under 48 hours (and sometimes within 24)!
Yeah, Amazon Prime’s value proposition is compelling. They are also the 800 pound gorilla in the room and have the biggest role to play as a corporate steward and champion for employee wellbeing. They need to be a benevolent watchdog over the industries they dominate to makes sure wages are protected and working conditions are safe for those doing the back breaking work that lines executives and shareholders pockets. Not doing so would be exploitive, as we know full well that many of these workers will one day be replaced by AI and they’ll have to find decent paying wages elsewhere.
Employers have and should continue to make investments that help workers build skills that can be transferred into new jobs, roles, or industries that will pay similar or better wages when their logistics job gets disintermediated by new systems, new vendors or new forms of intelligence.
Employees should understand the changing winds and seek to continue to build skills needed for tomorrow’s positions. While a job may be secure today, the only constant we can expect is constant change and so we anticipate change and prepare for it by keeping our skills sharp, our resume up to date, and our network active and engaged.
Watch a video of the technology inside an Amazon Distribution Center. It’s mind blowing – and this technology is here today! One day, machines will take over many of the jobs that companies rely on humans for today.